Since 1989, the United Veterans Council of Monterey County has been working to promote the common good and welfare of all Veterans, their dependents, widows and orphans. They provide resources to Veterans who are struggling; who are in need of a little assistance with housing, repairs, food, clothing and utilities. Homes for Heroes, in conjunction with their local real estate specialist, has awarded the United Veterans Council of Monterey County a hero grant through the Homes for Heroes Foundation to help support their efforts with local Veterans and their families.
United Veterans Council of Monterey County Interview with Jay Flynn
The Homes for Heroes Foundation awarded the United Veterans Council of Monterey County a $10,000 hero grant to provide funds to the veterans in Monterey County and their families who are in need of housing, auto repairs, food, clothing, and utilities. This Homes for Heroes Foundation grant is part of the Homes for Heroes Circle of Giving, providing assistance for heroes facing a housing crisis or in need of urgent financial assistance.
Jay Flynn, Hero Outreach Coordinator with Homes for Heroes, speaks with Sid Williams, Treasurer of the United Veterans Council of Monterey County, and Veteran Sam Massey. The organization was nominated for the grant by Homes for Heroes real estate specialist, Peter Antonian. You can watch the full interview here or read the transcript of the interview below.
Jay: Hello and thanks for joining me today. I’m Jay Flynn, Homes for Heroes Hero Outreach Coordinator with the Homes for Heroes Foundation. I’m joined today by:
- Sid Williams, Treasurer with the United Veterans Council of Monterey County
- Peter Antonian, Homes for Heroes real estate specialist
- Veteran hero, Sam Massey
It’s an honor to be here with you guys today. Hope everyone’s doing well.
All: We are. We are. The great foggy day in Monterey.
Jay: Well, as part of the Homes for Heroes Circle of Giving, the Homes for Heroes Foundation provides grants to nonprofits whose missions are to help our heroes in dire need. Sid, Peter and I are so happy to present this $10,000 Homes for Heroes Foundation grant to the United Veterans Council of Monterey County. Congratulations!
Sid: Thank you so much. This will help a lot of people, thank you very much.
Jay: That’s awesome. So let’s take a few minutes and talk about the United Veterans Council of Monterey County and its mission of service. So Sid, please tell us about how the Veterans Council came to be.
Sid: The United Veterans Council of Monterey County was formed in 1989 as an umbrella organization to try and unite the various veteran groups throughout the county, to make us more politically powerful. To help veterans who are suffering, and to politically argue for programs before the county supervisors, city councils, state and federal legislators to try and benefit active military and veterans. That has continued for years, and years, and years.
One of the problems with helping veterans individually along the way was, we found that they would go to a VFW in Shane City, which is almost 100 miles from here, and hit somebody up for 50 bucks. Then they would go to Salinas and hit somebody up for 50 bucks. So we thought if we could pull all of the funds together, and direct them all to come to us, then we can vet their veteran status, and perhaps have enough funds to get some people over the hump. So, we have helped a lot of folks that way.
An example of one of the legislative moves that we fought for, that took us over 24 years, was we got a California state Veterans cemetery built out at old historic Fort Ord. Well, after the state said no, for 20 of those 24 years.
Jay: Persistence paid off. So really Sid, you guys have just brought under one umbrella all of the groups whose mission was to help our Veterans, right? So you’re kind of like a coordinating group, that makes sure you can get more impact to the people that need it.
Sid: Exactly, exactly, in fact, we would let the member organizations know when it’s time to put on your hats and go to the Board of Supervisors meeting, when it’s time to write letters to whichever elected representative is appropriate for whatever we’re trying to do, and also let them know what’s going on in the veteran community, and other services like commissary trucks, etc., very local.
Jay: That unified mission surely makes a difference. I’m certain of it.
Peter, let’s shift gears over to you for a little bit. Tell us why, and what’s your why, behind nominating this great group for the Homes for Heroes Foundation Grant.
Peter: Okay. About four years ago. Okay (pauses).
About four years ago, I was facing homelessness myself (pauses).
I had a friend that helped me through that time, and I didn’t know about the United Veterans Council of Monterey County.
But it was…it was my work with the American Legion Post 41 in Monterey that I learned about UVC, and I learned about their monthly board meetings. I started coming (to the meetings), representing my post. So over the last couple of years, I’ve attended several meetings and I’ve got to know Sid and the board of Directors for this organization, and I see the work that they do for veterans in need.
I know what they’re doing (first hand), and I know that people sometimes just need a little help over the hump before they go down a big spiral and the UVC, they do that?
Jay: Yeah, a hand up is always such a crucial thing versus a handout, right? That hand up to help people over the hump, and get where they need to be.
Alright, Sid, so we see the difference that you guys are making obviously from Peter’s reaction. So tell us about the programs and assistance that you guys offer to our heroes right there in Monterey County.
Sid: Our program asks veterans who are looking for help to go to the VA clinic locally, because there are counselors at the VA that can help them at the Veterans Transition center here locally. They can vet the veteran status, they can go to an organization called Nations’ Finest, they can get the status, or to the country veteran service office, and describe the need.
I believe that Sam was VTC, that came to me through VTC. And so then that counselor that felt he had a need that could be met, sent me an email or phoned me, and we talked about what the issue is, how much money we need, who do we have to pay if we decide to do this. And we process through, as quickly as we can, because frequently these things are time critical for these guys and gals.
And so I’m the coordinator for that as the Treasurer, and I follow with all of the executive boards to get permission to spend the money, and then I’ll cut the check and take it to the appropriate person. We never gave Sam the money, we gave it to the people Sam needed money for. That way we know the money goes toward exactly what the need was, and it doesn’t get misdirected, as sometimes it does.
And so as an example, in the last three years we’ve helped almost 90 veterans, to the tune of almost $40,000. We do a golf tournament annually to raise funds, which go into our veterans emergency fund as well. That’s our main source of income for it. There are a lot of veterans in Monterey County, and there is a lot of homelessness in Monterey County. The cost of living here is substantial and difficult for people trying to get into housing, sometimes even if they have resources. So we find that we can help overcome that obstacle for a lot of folks. Or a guy can’t get to work because his truck is broken down, and a $700 repair bill might be more than he can find room for, so how does he get to work? So, then that puts him over the edge, and pretty soon he can’t pay rent, and then we have another person homeless.
So that’s kind of how we do it. We make sure that the people asking for funds are who they say they are, and we want to help them get over the hump, so that the hump doesn’t become a mountain.
Jay: Wow. Absolutely. Absolutely. All right. So, Sam, thank you for taking the time to join us today and thank you for your service. And actually, Peter, Sid, I should thank you guys, too, for your service.
So, Sam, tell us how the United Veterans Council of Monterey County made an impact on your life.
Sam: Oh, wow. So the last year and a half of my life, where I had separated from the Army after 27 years of service (I’m a disabled combat veteran), and all points in my life, all the foundations of my life were starting to crack and fall away. From my marriage, my daughter moving out of the house, and all of a sudden I’m a single dad in one of the most expensive areas in the country with half the income and twice the bills. I was on my last straw of being able to take care of everything.
UVC through VTC was able to assist me with a down payment for my housing, so I could get into a more affordable house. They got to me at the right time. Just that one little bit, that small gift that they gave to me, to assist me (it was in February). Since then I’ve been able to maintain steady employment. My income has gone up. I’ve been able to recover financially, we’re stable. My son and I are doing fine and everything’s good. So we have a brand new lease on life, and a new outlook, and are ready to work hard and move on to more success.
When I was asked to come and speak to you guys today on behalf of United Veterans Council of Monterey County, I felt like I had to. Absolutely! (There are) so many people out there that need this help. They need to have these resources available for them. And it’s not a huge amount of resources. It’s just enough to get them on their feet and moving forward, so that they can help themselves and that’s important.
So, it warms my heart to be here, and to be able to say kind words on behalf of the organization, and on behalf of VTC as well, which provides a great service to the community.
Jay: Wow. That’s amazing. And Sid, I think you said it best. You get over the hump to where it doesn’t become a mountain, right? And that’s really what it’s all about. Just that a little bit of a hand up can make such a tremendous impact in people’s lives. Everything you guys stand for is so, so impressive.
And to our viewers, if you want to learn more, you can visit the United Veterans Council of Monterey County website that we’re included here in the video. And then while you’re there, take another second to make a donation to help them out. As they all said, there’s a huge opportunity to offer assistance to our veterans and help them out when they need it.
And you know, United Veterans Council of Monterey County is such a wonderful nonprofit supporting the veterans there in California that are in need. And from the bottom of my heart, thank you all for taking the time to join me today, and letting us have the honor of presenting this $10,000 grant to the United Veterans Council of Monterey County.
Peter: Well deserved.
Sid: Thank you. Thank you so much.
Jay: Absolutely. And for those that have tuned in to watch, thank you for taking time to hear about the great work that United Veterans Council of Monterey County is doing.
And show us a little bit of love. Give us a like, give us a share, give us a comment. But most of all, join us for future episodes to hear more about the Homes for Heroes Foundation and how we partner with great groups like this across the country to help our heroes in dire need.
I hope everyone has a great rest of your day. And remember, take a minute today and thank a hero.